Part 1 of 3 Part Series
It's a rite of passage so many of us look forward to, perhaps not every year, but as often as we can make it work. This year, more than a third of American families will take a vacation with the whole crew, kids and all. These days, we're also more likely to take multigenerational trips, with three or more generations traveling together.
Hans Lagerweij, former President of Quark and now the Portfolio Managing Director Adventure, TUI Group, takes family vacations often. One of the greatest benefits of family travel, he says, is the effect it has on a child's development.
The Best Family Vacations Are Great Learning Opportunities
“Traveling with children is fun, engaging and, I believe, a true gift to your children's development,” Lagerweij says. “The incredible amount of knowledge and understanding they get from the experience prepares them to become responsible global citizens.”
When his children were 8 and 6 years old, Lagerweij and his wife took them to Costa Rica. Their second trip as a family brought them to another major bucket list destination for many: the Galapagos Islands. He calls it “one of the best open-air classrooms on the planet.”
While on expedition, the kids were able to observe animals – sometimes nesting or with their young – at close range.
“The kids encountered sharks while snorkeling and learned to value and respect them, rather than fear them,” Lagerweij says. “Initially, we were not sure how they would like the experts' lectures on board, so we equipped them with iPads for the first session. Our fear was unfounded – we actually had to stop them asking questions after they fired 5 questions to the presenter within 10 minutes!”
Traveling with Kids on an Antarctic Cruise
Earlier this year, the Lagerweij family had one of their best family vacations yet, on an Antarctic expedition. Seeing and interacting with penguins, seals and whales was just one aspect of what was an unforgettable experience for the entire brood.
Lagerweij recalls his family's most memorable experiences: “The snow, with so many different beautiful colors and shapes of icebergs; standing on the 7th continent; visiting an actual research facility; going on Zodiac cruises. Antarctica has so much to offer travelers of all ages.”
On board, the expedition team organized activities that travelers any age could participate in, he notes. Their trip featured an Antarctica dress-up party and a barbeque on the outer deck.
“The kids also found my taking the optional polar plunge highly amusing,” says Lagerweij, laughing.
Antarctic Holiday Builds Character, Ignites Passion
The experiences Lagerweij's family had in Antarctica can't be repeated anywhere else in the world. The kids, for example, loved looking for “black ice” while out Zodiac cruising. Slick and ink black, this type of ice can be tens of thousands of years old. Since black ice will melt anyway, they were allowed to bring some back to the ship to enjoy in their drinks.
On expedition landings, the kids loved watching and interacting with Antarctic wildlife, both large and small. The family had the opportunity to see a variety of whales, seals, orcas and penguins in their natural habitat. Lagerweij's son was ecstatic to hold tiny krill, the lifeblood of the Antarctic ecosystem, in his hands before releasing them back into the frigid waters.
Throughout each trip, travelers young and old participate in and learn about polar sustainability initiatives. Quark is a member of AECO and IATTO, organizations dedicated to environmentally sustainable tourism. We support the Underwater Bait Setter program to reduce the dangers commercial fishing has on the majestic albatross encountered on our Antarctic voyages. We've pledged a minimum contribution of US$244,650 (by the end of 2018) from expedition sales to support The Nature Conservancy. We are constantly evaluating our carbon-neutral initiatives and offer CarbonNeutral® voyages, and we carbon offset team travel, passenger fly/cruise programs and more.
We're also an active and ardent supporter of Penguin Lifelines, an important initiative led by one of our very own on-board experts, world-renowned penguinologist Dr. Tom Hart. You can “meet” Dr. Hart and get your first taste of Quark's immersive education program in this 360° Virtual Reality video:
We're firm believers that the best vacations leave each traveler relaxed and rejuvenated but also inspired to pass on knowledge and perspective. Thanks to their interactions with Antarctic wildlife, as well as Quark's on-board experts and other polar-passionate travelers, your children will come away engaged and excited about their place in a more environmentally responsible world.
Lagerweij recalls that just a few weeks after the trip, his kids asked him, “Daddy, can we please go to Antarctica again?”
“Clearly, they had loved the once in a lifetime experience as much as we did, and it was one of our best family vacations yet,” he says.
Are you ready to start planning your own family vacation? Join the Quark Antarctic community for videos, social media conversations, brochures, articles and more to help you plan your perfect Antarctic getaway. Contact our experienced Polar Travel Advisers with any questions.